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It’s a common situation for any teacher.

You’re having trouble with a student’s behavior, or they can’t quite keep up with the rest of the class. But when we turn to their parents to provide information and insight, the phrase ‘but my child would never’ is all too familiar. After all, they behave like angels at home – so why wouldn’t they be the same in the classroom too?

For teachers struggling with managing problem students because their parents don’t quite believe their reports, it can be challenging to back up discipline and provide the foundations a child needs to succeed. But why do children behave so differently in class compared to how they act at home?

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Reasons students may struggle

There are many reasons students may struggle in education but behave perfectly outside the classroom. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Classes often contain 25+ students, which is an entirely different social situation for children used to one-on-one time with authority figures or consistent attention throughout the day.
  • In school, the focus is on learning and developing, with all children working on the same tasks and goals – meaning students are required to perform activities or learn even when they don’t want to.
  • The average classroom has several extra support students, which can easily lead to disruption or issues with other students thanks to their actions or behaviors.

With so many different reasons why students may have different behavior in the classroom compared to at home, it’s easy to see why such changes occur. It’s also the case that when something happens at home, that behavior often manifests in the classroom in various ways. Students who struggle to regulate their emotions, either temporarily or generally, often struggle with a stressful or overly rigid schedule – something school can easily represent.

According to Parent Map, children who behave differently at home than how they act at school result from several things. For children who misbehave at home but do well at school, this suggests they feel safer and less controlled regarding bad behavior. However, adverse incidents in the classroom are something else entirely and are often due to a clash of what is expected of children at home compared to the expectations in school. For example, active children used to running and playing may struggle to sit still and write for 20 minutes.

So, what can parents do to understand their child’s behavior in school and support us as teachers in helping them to overcome any issues or problems along the way? Here are just a few things that could help:

Listen and believe us

As teachers, we don’t like coming to parents with problems and issues about a child. But that communication is even worse when parents don’t believe their child’s behavior. By understanding that we are professionals and listening to us when it comes to the ways we monitor and care for your child, we can work together to improve behavior. This may be especially difficult for children that behave perfectly outside of school, but understanding the difficulties the classroom can bring is the first step to better behavior.

Add some structure to time outside of school

Working with parents to provide consistent structure is one of the tools we can use for students struggling with the rules and requirements surrounding the school. Having homework and specific reading times at home and in class can help normalize the education process and provide children with the global structure they need to improve. For children who have trouble sitting still, parents can also build in more exercise time in the mornings and evenings to help improve their school performance, something often recommended for students with ADHD but equally applicable to those with just high drives to move and be active.

As educators, we want our students to have the best start possible in life. By working with parents to understand behavior or changes in attitude, we can ensure every child we work with succeeds in their way. How do you work with parents to manage in-class behavior? Let us know in the comments below.